Traumatic history of bad relationships


Traumatic history of bad relationships


your avatar   Taryn, 18-year-old woman

At 18, I'm still seeking the freedom that I've been denied by a controlling mom seeking to make up for my father's absence. He'd been in and out of my life since I was a baby, stealing from me, lying to me, and letting me down.

My first boyfriend at age 12 sexually assaulted me, and that was followed by me dating older and dangerous men who used me. I was raped by a stranger and by boyfriends multiple times. I also have been dealing with depression, anorexia, trauma, and suicidal as well as compulsive lying tendencies for years. Neither medication nor therapy nor in-patient treatment helped.

My question is, why do I continue to sabotage healthy, good relationships? I always cheat. It's as if I know it's wrong, but feel no guilt. I always start fights and act difficult with my boyfriends, even as the relationship progresses. At the same time, I cannot trust them and I am always expecting them to leave.

Why do I do this?


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Taryn my dear,

No one can tell you why you do things. I think you know yourself and don't really need anyone to tell you. But I think your reaction to men makes sense. In your short life, males have been the enemy, haven't they? Your father, all the so-called boyfriends who proved themselves to be enemies rather than friends, have all given you the deep expectation that any male will use you, attack you, do nasty things to you.

If in fact that's your expectation, then your behavior will be to automatically act on it. Your conscious, reasoning mind might assess a particular man as being decent, loving, respectful, but deep below something in you "knows" that all men are horrid users who will take what they want from you, then throw you away.

All those symptoms and behaviors you describe about yourself are the result of the many traumas you have suffered. No medication will remove those experiences and the triggering of past traumatic events by current happenings.

So, I suspect your therapy has been misguided, and of the wrong kind. Please visit which is the web site of the Traumatic Incident Reduction society. TIR is research-based, and it works in converting re-lived traumatic memories into just things that happened. The web site has a list of accredited practitioners, and hopefully there will be some in your area.

After you have processed your traumatic memories, you will be able to respond to the present in an appropriate way that is not poisoned by what happened in the past.

You can do it.


This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit:

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